Tesla Model 3

Elon Musk says the UK Tesla Model 3 is due in mid-2019

Tesla Model 3Tesla buyers in the United Kingdom could expect their Model 3s to start arriving as soon as mid-2019, according to Elon Musk on Twitter.

It seems Musk’s Twitter has become our best source on Tesla news of late… and this time, it’s positive news for Brits, particularly those who have placed a £1,000 deposit and have been waiting patiently for news. 

Many claims were made about this car when it was revealed, and some inevitably are yet to be delivered. A $35,000 base car and mainstream availability in other markets continue to elude us. However, a new mid-level car was revealed last week, with the promise of the base car soon to follow.

Now, Elon Musk has confirmed right-hand drive Model 3s are on their way to the UK and Australia. We reckon the quality control issues ought to be in hand by then, too. Once an entry-level Model 3 lands on a UK driveway, the Model 3 should be a fully resolved and matured, mainstream production car.

Tesla has even posted a $311million profit recently, prompting a pleasing share price rise for the company. It’ll make even more if it can get some right-hand drive Model 3s into the hands of UK and Australian customers in the not-too-distant future…

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Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 long-term review: life with Elon Musk’s make-or-break electric car

Tesla Model 3

This is the first of a series of reports on buying and living with a Tesla Model 3 – the compact all-electric executive car, UK-bound for 2019.

We haven’t been given the car by Tesla. Indeed, Tesla isn’t even aware we’re doing this. It belongs to a friend of Motoring Research who has bought a Model 3 with his own money. Also, he’s located in California, so we haven’t even physically seen it.

We’ll relay his experiences – positive and negative – of buying and running a Model 3. The volume and intensity of the conversation surrounding Elon Musk and Tesla is fairly steep. As such, a no-nonsense running report on this market disruptor seems timely, and hopefully useful.

Tesla Model 3

Our friend was UK-based, but emigrated to the US for work. He had a passing interest in electric cars without ever owning one, so buying brand-new is no small commitment.

Importantly, he’s not a motoring journalist, so can offer a different (dare we say more realistic?) perspective. Don’t expect stories of measuring panel gapsor calling the press office about problems – although the quality of the Model 3 is something we’ll be asking about.

This is a real consumer giving his verdict on his new car. Whatever comes of it, we hope to provide a unique insight into the love-or-loathe world of Tesla via its most important car to date – the Model 3.

Excited to take delivery

Tesla Model 3

The car was ordered on the 10th of September and delivered on the 14th, although we suspect it wasn’t built within those four days. Tesla’s US website site says typical order-to-delivery time is ‘within four weeks’ so it seems he bought an existing car.

Delivery time for the dual-motor all-wheel-drive model was quoted as three months. Our friend was a bit impatient and thus opted for rear-wheel drive. His Model 3 is the long-range version with Sport wheels in Midnight Silver.

On paper, figures for the Model 3 look impressive: a 310-mile range, 5.1 seconds to 60mph and 140mph flat-out. We’ll report back on how it fares in the real world, with a particular emphasis, we expect, on that range figure.

For now, we can confirm the feeling of anxiety upon ordering was fast replaced with excitement, especially when a box with the key inside landed in his possession. First impressions and driving updates will follow soon…


Update 2: quality woes?

Remembering we’re trying to be impartial and stand aside from internet-wide Tesla hysteria here, the initial news isn’t good. The car arrived – brand new – with a dent in the door. Our friend accepted the car on the condition that it was repaired for free, a courtesy car was provided and that he got a year of free Supercharger access. Remember, the Model 3 doesn’t usually get free juice like the Model S and X do.

Tesla Model 3

On the one hand, you expect a new car to be of a condition and quality that can’t be questioned. On the other, the compensation seems adequate. Our friend says that, other than the dent, quality is absolutely fine. The panels all fit correctly, there’s no peeling rubber, no mismatched interior trim or any other such blunders.

What many decide to forget when ranting about Tesla is that most car manufacturers have experienced and continue to experience quality control issues. Clichés don’t materialise out of thin air – car buyers have decades-long experience of continuous mis-steps in quality from certain manufacturers.

Learning curve

Where you can legitimately critique this car is with regard to something all buyers will face: the learning curve. If the future is now, it shouldn’t be intimidating. Teslas represent the future but they’re also cars we’re being asked to buy now.

In terms of aesthetics, Tesla has nailed this. All of these cars are attractive in very contemporary sense. Generic and sleek rather than edgy and weird. Upmarket rather than prop-reject from a sci-fi film set.

Inside, however, it’s a different story. Yes, it’s very attractive, but almost everything is digitally controlled. How does this work in real life? Our friend needed a few minutes to work out how to roll down the windows and even get the passenger door open. It’s all stuff you get around within minutes. An hour of sitting in it and familiarising yourself goes a long way, as it turns out. Nevertheless, some of the more change-resistant among us might jump in one to try it and be instantly put off.

Some of the futuristic toys are, of course, absolutely superb. Checking on and controlling the car via the Tesla app is a revelation. “I just cooled the inside of my car from 100F to 75F.  Remotely,” our friend brags.

Tesla Model 3

Torquing tough

Where better to give your Tesla its first proper run than Highway One? This is an aspect of the future we’re all happy to get on board with, and our friend was bowled over by the Model 3’s performance. “The torque at 50mph feels like pulling from standstill. It’s exhilarating”. “You’re going to break my neck” was one comment he received from his passenger.

It impresses in the turns, too – a good job given this is touted as a small executive car above all else. “The centre of gravity feels low like you’d expect. Very stable in corners”. That’s the benefit of much of the drivetrain weight sitting comfortably below the door handles.

In terms of braking, our friend was oddly comfortable with the idea of simply letting off the throttle. The Tesla Model 3, like many EVs and hybrids, has regenerative braking. Off-throttle, the motion of the car is translated back into electrical energy via the motors, with a side-effect of the car slowing down.

Home on the range

With a good part of a day spent driving and, shall we say, ‘testing’ the car, you might have expected the range to take a significant hit. Our friend charged the car to 90 percent the day before, with a view to taking it for a good run, after which it went from 90 percent to 66 percent charge. Apparently, the estimations of remaining range hold true, too: a solid 270 miles to a charge. What range anxiety?

Charging is something of another story. Unless you’re Supercharging, you need to commit extended periods of time to juicing up. “The phone app shows the time to charge 90 percent. It arrived with 40 percent charge and will take six hours to refuel,” was one comment.

There’s more to come soon on the day-to-day of running a new Tesla Model 3. We don’t think the honeymoon period will pass for a while yet…

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Tesla FOS

Tesla Model 3 to make its European debut at Goodwood FOS

Tesla FOS

Anyone with a remote interest in cars will have been closely watching the story of Tesla as it has unfolded.

Controversies aside, Tesla and its high-profile boss, Elon Musk, are arguably the most significant market disruptors the automotive industry has seen in recent years. The U.S. firm is among those leading the charge to make cars and the latest technology and connectivity capabilities collide.

Now, Tesla’s most important new model to date, the Model 3, is set to make its European debut at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed, long before the right-hand drive UK-spec cars are expected to hit driveways.

As it stands, the Model 3 at Goodwood will be a U.S.-spec car, rather than the one we can expect to start seeing silently traversing the roads of Britain around 2020.

Tesla arguably fast-tracked the EV revolution when it brought the Model S to market a few years back. Here was a good looking, cool and, most importantly, viable electric car. Promise of an expansive charging network, along with the fact that it was a genuinely impressive car, made it popular. But the Model S isn’t what you’d call cheap.


The significance of the Model 3 is its primary task: putting the Tesla phenomenon within reach of a much larger consumer audience. It’s expected to cost from around £30,000 (after incentives), or around half the price of the cheapest Model S and be good for a range of between 220 and 310 miles, depending on spec.

The car’s first appearance on European soil is an important occasion, then, especially as this comes not long after the factory claimed to hit its 5,000 cars per week production target.

We wonder how many of the Goodwood visitors taking a close look at the Model 3 will have a purchase in mind. How many would-be BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class buyers are likely to be swayed to add to the circa-500,000 Model 3 orders rumoured to have been received by Tesla?

These are questions that have no doubt been asked and over-analysed by supremo Elon Musk. We look forward to getting a closer look for ourselves.

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Tesla Model 3

Video: Telsa Model 3 revealed in California

Watch Tesla chief Elon Musk pulls the covers off the new Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3: all you need to know – with video

Tesla Model 3 first lookThe waiting is over – Tesla has launched its $35,000 (£25,000) high-volume Model 3 electric car and the world is buzzing with excitement.

The firm is already accepting $1,000 (refundable) deposits – £1,000 in the UK – for the new Model 3 and during the launch event, Tesla chief Elon Musk revealed 115,000 orders had already been placed in the first 24 hours alone.

This figure currently appears to be rising by many hundreds every single minute…

Tesla Model 3: need to know

  • Price: From $35,000
  • Range: From 215 miles
  • 0-62mph: Less than 6.0 seconds
  • Seats: 5
  • Delivery: 2017
  • Driverless functionality: Auto Pilot standard
  • Ordering: $1,000 (£1,000) refundable deposits taken from now
  • Target annual production: 500,000

Video: Tesla Model 3

Musk started the launch event by setting the scene for Tesla: record high global CO2, making it “very important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport”. Enter the four-part ‘Tesla Secret Masterplan” that started with the Tesla Roadster, evolved to the Model S and Model X, and now takes in the Model 3.

GM’s Bob Lutz credited the Telsa Roadster with inspiring the Chevrolet Volt programme, which also led to the Nissan Leaf. Already, Tesla’s had a big effect on the auto industry. And now the Model 3 is set to take the next step.

What is the Tesla Model 3?

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is a mid-size model that will compete with models such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. It is all-electric and Musk says the range will be a minimum of 215 miles on the U.S. EPA test cycle; all models will have Telsa Supercharger recharge functionality as standard (and the Supercharger network is set to double, to 441 global locations, by the end of next year).

It will be a fast car – even the ‘slowest’ model will do 0-62mph in less than 6.0 seconds. “At Tesla, we don’t make slow cars” says Musk. And there will, of course, be models that go much faster, he confirmed.

Both all-wheel drive and air suspension will be optional.

The Model 3 will be “an incredibly safe car” said Musk, with 5-star ratings in every category. “Safety has to come first” said the company founder. We can thus expect glittering Euro NCAP test results when the Model 3 is assessed in Europe.

Active safety will be boosted by the standard fitment of Tesla Auto Pilot, the autonomous ‘self-driving’ technology already seen on the Tesla Model S.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Inside, the Model 3 is a full five-seater with the “best roominess of any car of this size”, promised Musk: five adults will fit comfortably and the cabin will fully swallow a 7-foot surfboard. As with the Model S, there are luggage compartments both front and rear, offering class-leading capacity “and more cargo space than any same-size gas car”.

Tesla Model 3 interior

The cabin incorporates the familiar oversize touchscreen in the centre of the dash – although this time it’s mounted horizontally rather than portrait-style. There’s also no traditional instrument panel dashboard – the designers have instead shifted the cabin layout, seating those in the front much further forward than normal to maximise interior space.

As for the price, Musk was clear: it will “of course” cost from £35,000 – that’s around £24,500 in the UK, although it will likely rise to around £30,000 once it arrives in the UK.

The base model won’t be a stripped-out, featureless machine though, promised Musk. All the key features of the Model 3 will be standard across the range.

And when will deliveries begin? Next year, he said: a 2017 delivery date is something he’s “fairly confident” of (although Tesla perhaps doesn’t have the best track record of meeting delivery date targets…).

Tesla Model 3: a high-volume EV

Tesla Freemont

Tesla wants to significantly ramp up its global volumes with the Model 3. This is its mainstream model, the car that should take it from 50,000 units to 500,000 units per year.

The Freemont factory – a former GM/Toyota joint venture called NUMMI – already has the capacity to make half a million cars a year, said Musk: the challenge is the batteries. 500,000 batteries a year represents the world’s current total lithium ion production!

Tesla Gigafactory

Hence Tesla building a new battery factory, the Gigafactory (pictured above). This will boast the largest footprint of any building in the world and be second in overall size only to the Boeing factory in Washington. It’s enormous – and its success is essential to the Model 3’s viability.

Video: watch the Tesla Model 3 launch

What are the rivals to the Tesla Model 3?

The Model 3 is a revolution for Tesla but it’s not a car without rival. Here are the established contenders and ambitious newcomers set to go up against the new Model 3

Chevrolet Bolt

Similar price, all-electric ability, similarly ambitious goals: GM’s first modern EV is being pitched as the real world alternative to the fancy Tesla Model 3 and will be a fierce competitor to Elon’s baby. But is it a bit too real world?

Nissan LEAF

2015 Nissan Leaf 30kWh review: Verdict

Musk namechecked the Nissan LEAF during the reveal of the Model 3: the original Tesla Roadster led directly to its development, he said (which may be news to Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn). Today the world’s most successful fully electric car, it’s a groundbreaker that will become even more formidable in next-gen form that’s likely due around the time of the Model 3’s launch…

BMW 3 Series

BMW 320d LT part 2

Tesla aims to make a full EV that can challenge the compact executive hierarchy with the Model 3, and there’s no finer example of this than the BMW 3 Series (a car we’ve been living with for the past few months). Most are sold with conventional petrol or diesel engines but there’s also now a plug-in hybrid. BMW also offers…

BMW i3

BMW i3 in Central London

… The brilliantly ingenious i3, which has ingenious construction, brilliant driving manners and all the reliability, solidity and cut-above feel you’d expect of a BMW. If a full EV is a step too far, there’s even a range extender version with a tiny motorbike engine in the back

Toyota Prius Prime

Revealed at the 2016 New York Auto Show, Toyota has added extended-range plug-in hybrid capability to the established, multi-million-selling Prius hybrid. But what if buyers truly want zero emissions? Toyota has an answer there too…

Toyota Mirai

Toyota Mirai

… With the brilliant Mirai, an all-electric car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell rather than the Tesla’s plug-in batteries. It’s the first volume fuel cell car on sale and as much of a ground-breaker as anything Tesla’s done. Could this be the one the Model 3 must really watch?

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 teased ahead of March 31 reveal

Tesla Model 3Tesla will reveal its crucial Model 3 electric car on March 31 – the £30,000 volume EV it hopes will give it the higher sales necessary for long-term sustainability.

Sitting below the Model S saloon and new Model X crossover, the Model 3 will be similar in size to an Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class: not only that, it also has those three cars directly in its sights as a full EV alternative to the top-selling German compact executive cars that dominate the sector.

Tesla boss Elon Musk has revealed the Model 3 is around 20% smaller than the Model S, a car nearly 5 metres long. The Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are all around 4.6 metres long.

The all-electric Model 3 will, on the insistence of Musk, have a range of at least 200 miles, although the reality is that most customers expect at least 20% more, he added. Call it 250 miles then – not far shy of the larger Model S.

Technically, achieving such a range in a more compact car is an interesting challenge – particularly as Tesla will also have to maximise interior space and luggage capacity to ensure its market appeal is as broad as possible. This makes it likely some next-generation battery technology may debut in the Model 3.

This will also give it the standout performance that’s becoming a Tesla trademark. Expect best-in-class acceleration figures, with numbers likely to challenge sports cars for potency.

Following the reveal at the Tesla Design Studio in California on March 31, pre-orders for the new Model 3 will open, although first deliveries are not expected until 2017.

Musk has also said a crossover version derived from the Model 3 will be launched later, likely to be called Model Y.

The Model 3 will be key to Tesla hitting its goal of selling 500,000 cars by 2020. Last year, it sold 50,000.